The National Grocers Association (NGA) Foundation was selected as a sub-awardee for a federal contract to provide training and technical assistance to retailers implementing produce incentive and prescription projects.
As part of a coalition that includes the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition (GSCN) and Fair Food Network, the NGA Foundation Technical Assistance Center will help support the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), formerly known as the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI), which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
GusNIP provides Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants and low-income customers experiencing diet-related health conditions with incentives to increase their purchase of fruits and vegetables at food retailers and farmers markets. Through the program, incentives and prescriptions are offered in a variety of methods at the point of purchase. Retailers are reimbursed for the cost of the incentives and prescriptions they redeem by grantee organizations.
“We’re pleased to have been chosen as a partner in this initiative and to have built a strong team to lead to this important nutrition incentive effort,” said NGA Foundation President and President and CEO of NGA Greg Ferrara. “Supermarkets serve an integral role in their communities by providing a wide variety of affordable fresh and high-quality food items. Many NGA retailer members have found that programs that deliver nutrition education to make healthy food choices, combined with customer incentives are an important resource for SNAP customers that can have a positive impact on their lives.”
In particular, the foundation will be tasked with collecting information on the different incentive instruments in use, the advantages, disadvantages and costs involved in each, and sharing best practices for implementation to make adoption as easy at retail. In order to fulfill this role, the NGA Foundation has added staff and consultants to establish its Technical Assistance Center.
Ted Mason was brought on board as the NGA Foundation Technical Assistance Center project director. He most recently was the director of information technology for an independent, 10-store supermarket chain in Kentucky and has extensive experience within the grocery retail industry, including as a retail technologist for the nation’s largest wholesale grocer and as director of emerging technology and electronic payments for FMI. Mason also was chairman of the committee that developed the national standards for today’s SNAP and WIC card-based electronic payments systems.
He is joined by Chelsea Matzen who was named the center’s project manager. Matzen brings experience from her time at National Farmers Union (NFU) where she managed all aspects of the Local Food Safety Collaborative, a $4.5 million cooperative agreement between NFU and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Also joining the team are Patrick Jones as project assistant as well as Kate Fitzgerald, Tim O’Connor and Jimmy Wright as consultants.